The difference between tablet PCs can be likened to the difference between a Fiat Panda and Rolls Royce. They both have four wheels, an engine and windscreen but the quality is worlds apart.
The things to consider when buying a tablet is software responsiveness, screen quality and battery life. The good models score high on these features, the poor models set a bar for low standards, yet the price between both types can be similar. Also a result:
As a result when you’ve got your eyes set on a tablet, read performance reviews from people who use the particular model. It will provide worthwhile insight into the device.
With this in mind the following are the things you need to consider when choosing a tablet.
How will you use it?
- For home use such as web browsing, email, listening to music and so on most good quality tablets will do the job. You certainly won’t need a high end tablet, so your budget doesn’t have to be huge.
- If you’re sizing up a tablet as work tool you'll want one with at least a 9-inch so you have plenty of screen space from which to work. These higher-end models can be relatively expensive but they come with useful features such as keyboard attachments and pen-input support.
- When looking for a tablet for a child you need to think about size, price and ruggedness. A 7-inch screen is a good size for children and look for those with rubber around the edges. Child meets tablet often means somewhere down the line the screen will get broken. As such you don’t want to be spending a lot either. If you shop around you’ll discover quite a few child-friendly models.
- A dedicated tablet for steaming movies, watching TV and so on is something a lot of people use. Look for a tablet with a pixel display of 2000 x 1500 upwards as well as good quality speakers such as Dolby Atmos.
Pure tablet or hybrid?
Do you go with a standard tablet or would you rather have a convertible tablet?
- Stand-alone tablets are like monster smartphones. They have a large touch screen, a handful of buttons on the case, a charging connector and little else. They are relatively light and are typically less than half an inch thick, so they're compact and portable. They are controlled via touch screen and can often be paired with a Bluetooth keyboard.
- Convertible devices combine the flexibility of the PC with the convenience of a tablet. These 2-in-1 devices either come with a detachable keyboard or they're really just a full-size laptop that features a touch screen.
- Detachable tablets look and work like stand-alone tablets but they have specially designed keyboard attachment. They can be used as laptop replacements. Some come with the keyboard, while with others you need to buy the keyboard separately.
The processor is the engine of the tablet so you’ll want to be assured you’re not buying a slow motion model.
- Windows tablets mainly use Intel processors such as Core m3, i5 and i7 processors. Tablets with Intel Core processors are high-end devices and cost more. Lower-priced Windows often use Intel Atom processors.
- Android tablets uses processors from different manufacturers such as Samsung's Exynos chips and Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors are the most common. That said some Android devices use Rockchip CPUs.
- Apple uses its custom A-series chips inside its iPads such as A9X processors. The higher the processor number the newer a processor is the better performance it offers.
As a general rule make a note of checking what processor the tablet uses and then research its performance. For instance, you don’t want to buy a tablet for media streaming and then discover it has a low end processor so films and TV content lags.
Many tablets will get you all-day battery life, but some fall short. Given that by definition a tablet is a mobile device it should have a battery life of at least 7 hours on a single charge.
Generally speaking the more you spend, the more RAM you'll get, and on most tablets, you can expect anywhere between 1GB and 4GB of memory, though some models do provide up to 16GB. More RAM typically means fast performance when opening up apps and so on.
Stand-alone tablets typically come with 8 or 16GB of storage on the low end and up to 128GB on the high end. Convertible Windows tablets often up to 256GB of storage or more. Some tablets include SD card readers that allow you to expand your device's storage capacity. If you’re not using your tablet much 8 or 16 GB is fine but if you use it frequently 32GB of storage space is best.
Tablet screen sizes range from 6 inches at the low-end, all the way up to an 18.4 inches for monster versions. Most tablets fall into the 7 to 10-inch range which are ideal for mobility particularly 7 inch version. Tablets in the 10-inch range provide a good balance between portability and productivity if you’re looking to work from your tablet.
Depending on which operating system that runs on your tablet you have a number of options for downloading apps.
- On Windows 10 devices, you can buy apps, music and movies through the Windows Store. Microsoft vets everything in the store so theoretically you should be at a lower risk of malware infection.
- For iOS, the App Store is the only real way to get apps for your iPad. Apple keeps pretty tight controls over what apps you can buy through its store, which reduces the risk of downloading something malicious. You can buy music, movies and TV shows.
- Google Play is the official one-stop shop for getting apps, music and other content on your Android tablet. But Android's more open nature means it isn't the only way to get apps and other content and Android device manufacturers sometimes bundle their own digital store on their devices.